From time to time I return to certain issues in TLB which remain a bit of a mystery, both to myself and ostensibly to others. There are several of these in the literature, and are often discussed in the various blogs. Some of these are covered in David's excellent series on this blog concerning the evidence ("A Look At The Evidence," in several parts).
For this post I would like to revisit the story of Steven Parent's walk back to the parking area from the guest house at Cielo. My inquiry follows from David's post here on the blog on the same material, which serves as a template to my thoughts and hypothesis of what may have transpired on Steven's walk from the guest house back to the parking area to his car.
To be sure, I recently asked in the comments what Steven Parent might have seen as he returned to the parking area. It was pointed out to me that he certainly saw "them," the killers. Of this I have no doubt. But what about "them"? What might have Steve saw the intruders/killers doing that may have caused him to exclaim, "please don't hurt me. I won't say anything!" And perhaps just as important: just when did Steve see them? How well did he see them? And did they see him/approach him before the official narrative says they did?
To myself and others, there exist seeming gaps in the narrative of several aspects of TLB. David does a remarkable job pointing some of these out(Sharon Tate's blood on the front porch, even though none of the killers claimed she was there; the alternating size stab wounds to Voytek Frykowski; the walk that Susan Atkins was said to have taken out of the house when Voytek fell into the bushes, simultaneously encountering Linda Kasabian there--"Sadie's Stroll," and many others).
In many of these cases, the evidence says one thing, while the killers(and the official narrative)say another--or nothing at all. Time, as such, in many of these tellings becomes distorted, allowing for questions to be asked, the answers to which do not appear in the official narrative. In other words: how can some of these things have happened, as one attempts to reconcile time with evidence and the official narrative? These gaps are what I call "gap theory".
For the purposes of this post, the gap I'd like to discuss is how long it may have taken Steven Parent to reach his car, and what theoretically he may have seen on the way there, assuming he took the guest house path and did not take any diversions, say like perhaps trying to catch another glimpse of the girls(Sharon, Abigail)in the main house. (We know from Bill Garretson's police interview that Steve saw Sharon and Abigail in the main house as walked the path to the guest house upon his arrival to Cielo).
Additionally, I would like to hypothesize that the place Steve parked his car is of ultimate importance. This is because of the possibility that both the killer's and Steve saw each other before the official narrative claims that Steve's car's headlights were the first and only element in their meeting near the inside gate button.
After finishing a can of beer at the guest house speaking with Bill Garretson, Steve said goodnight and started down guest house path--clock radio in hand--en route to his car in the parking area. Full Stop. We can only assume Steve took this route, but taken together, he probably did. It may have been that Garretson, who was alerted to Steve's interest in the girls in the main house, admonished Steve to stick to the path and keep away from the main house on his way out.
Steve might have taken an innocent look, however, at the living room windows of the main house from the path. And herein makes for the possibility that maybe Steve caught a glimpse of the murders in progress--a theoretical possibility entertained by many. But of course none of the killers ever admit to seeing Steve on the path. Still, hypothetically this could have happened, as both the killers and Steve would have converged at about the same time at some point on the Cielo property, be it near the gate or at the main house. The official narrative says Steve was leaving when the killers arrived. The alternative hypothesis says the killers would have already been in place before Steve started his stroll back to the parking area.
As Steve continued on towards the parking area, something else may have caught his eye. Theoretically he may have caught a glimpse of a dark-clad figure up the power pole outside of the gate, cutting the lower lines, then watching them fall to the ground. It is here that Steve may have seen Tex Watson, but not the girls. Watson, on the other hand, may not have seen Steve.
LIGHTS IN THE NIGHT
It is here that my hypothesis take greater shape. Suppose that Steve saw the cutting of the lines, and the shadowy figure descend the power pole. The official narrative says the killers drove down the hill, and parked their car at the bottom. They then walked back up the hill, which, according to a previous Manson Blog tour, takes approximately three minutes and some seconds(Matt can provide verification of that point I believe). I further hypothesize that when the phone lines were cut, they fell several feet, and landed atop the gate, but also atop the wire that supplied power to the pole-mounted light at the gate--more on this in a moment.
In the intervening three minutes that it took the killers to walk back up the hill, Steven Parent may have conceivably been faced with a dilemma. He may have reasoned that something sinister was afoot, but what? Being electronically savvy, he deduces that the lower lines on a power pole are typically telephone and TV. The gate control mechanism is electrical, too, but is it still operable? Probably so, but he realizes one more startling thing: the gate pole light, which was on when he arrived, has gone out, its flimsy electrical connection knocked out when the lines Tex Watson cut landed upon it.
The gate light, which I have spoke about in the comments previously, has been a bit of a mystery to me. Put simply, I was unsure just where it was located. Looking at the many available photos of the Cielo gate area, I didn't find anything resembling a light there. That said, the killers never mentioned a gate light in the official narrative. For this to make sense, we need to recall the interview by the TV news on the weekend of the murders, with Cielo neighbor Maureen Serot.
Maureen Serot was the twenty-year-old step daughter of Ray Asin, who's family lived at 10090 Cielo Drive. It was Maureen's brother, fifteen-year-old Jim, that encountered a screaming Winifred Chapman in his driveway about 8:30AM, Saturday August 9, 1969.
In the TV interview, Maureen stated that she arrived home about 1:00AM early that Saturday morning. When asked if she saw anything strange that night, she mentioned that the light at the gate to 10050 was out, and that this was strange, as that light was on every night.
Looking now at photos of the 10050 gate area, I find the only light that could possibly fit the description of "gate light," would be the pole-mounted light inside the property atop the brick wall and next to the inside gate button. As David stated in his post, the wall appears to be about five feet high. I make the pole and light fixture to extend an additional four feet, or about nine feet total. This arguably is what Maureen saw, and it no doubt would have illuminated the area around that gate quite well.
Why does this light matter? I theorize it matters for at least one reason: if it were out when the killers walked back up the hill, they may not have thought it necessary to discuss it in the official narrative. Thus the killers may not have had sufficient light to have seen Steve Parent walking(or running)to his car when they climbed over the fence next to the gate. The official narrative, then, could remain the same: "we saw headlights coming at us."
But what about other lights in the parking area? We know for a fact that at least one was there: the bug light. This is the light that neighbor Seymour Kott saw on Saturday morning when he retrieved his morning paper. This is also the same light that Winifred Chapman switched off when she arrived at Cielo later that morning. Bug light bulbs are typically yellow in color, and this is apparent when we look at the photos of the side of the Cielo garage--that light(s)is next to the second-story door atop the garage, which is reached by the exterior stairs. An architectural drawing of the Cielo main house and garage is available on the internet, and it also lists a light on the right front corner of the garage, but I do not find this light to be visible in any photos of the garage that I have seen.
Again, why would the bug light(s) matter in this hypothesis? Simply because they would have provided at least some illumination to that area. But this brings up one more point: where exactly did Steve Parent park his car that night? David discusses a number of possibilities for the parking location in his post. For my hypothesis, I am going to theorize that Steve parked along side of the garage, next to the exterior garage stairs, and under the glow of the bug light(s).
If he parked at that location, he would not be potentially blocking the left garage door had he parked closer to Abigail Folger's Firebird. This location would also be out of sight of the main house, and much closer to the interior gate button(possibly well illuminated)and possibly visible to the killers before he started his car. Yet there is another thing of interest if he parked at that location: the severed wires (shown clearly in several photos) would have fallen just in front of, or even atop his car. If this is the case, it may have caused Steve fear, which would have made him wonder for three minutes what to do, as the killers drove down the hill then started back up again on foot.
When Steve finally saw all of the killers, he could have started his car and began to back up. It could have been at that exact moment that the official narrative said, "Tex went out of sight." I would question exactly how long Tex "went out of sight". In my hypothesis, there would potentially be at that point sufficient time for Tex to approach and chase down Steve as he threw the car into reverse. Steve may have been watching Tex approaching, knife and/or gun in hand, as the car travelled backwards, thus driving over the concrete swale and curb, breaking the fence. That this was an uninterrupted fluid motion to me is that there are no apparent tire skid marks on the driveway in any photos of this area. It would have been out in the driveway, then, that the initial confrontation between Steve and Tex took place, and not next to the inside gate button. Here Steve could have received the defensive wound to the palm of his hand. From here everything else in the official narrative could have happened. Namely, Steve drives toward the gate button in an attempt to press it and flee, Tex runs to the car and yells, "halt". Steve could have then exclaimed, "please don't hurt me. I won't say anything!" Watson would have known at this point that he had to use the gun, as Steve was getting away. And of course the rest we know.
SUMMING IT UP
The official narrative does not discuss the gate light or where Steve Parent parked his car. It does not discuss any interaction between Steve and Tex further out in the parking area, but of course it does discuss the shooting of Steve, where Linda Kasabian said, "I saw it clearly." But did she? The official narrative also does not tell us if Steve did, in fact, see the killers a few minutes before they claim to have seen his car headlights.
Speaking of the official narrative, when exactly was its genesis? Arguably it began to take shape at Spahn Ranch just before the killers left for Cielo Drive, proceeding thru the many vignettes of the night, before returning to Spahn. It is told by Susan Atkins, then confirmed and elaborated upon by Linda Kasabian.
But consider this: when Tex and the girls returned to Spahn Ranch on the Tate night, Charlie asked them about it and Tex briefed Charlie on the particulars. I wonder if after realizing that they just violently killed five adults and an unborn child, discharged several .22 caliber rounds, lost a knife at the scene, possibly left a palm print on the living room desk(Atkins), and were seen just minutes afterward by Rudy Weber, that the official narrative took shape in the saloon at Spahn, retaining some items while omitting others in order to get the "story straight". Or did it materialize in its finished form at the Sybil Brand institute, finally reaching its canonical status with Linda Kasabian's handwritten notes to Bugliosi that she "remembered"?
Taken together, esoteric things like gate lights, parking positions, steamer trunks, eyeglasses, purple scarves, dogs, the towel over Jay Sebring's head, Sharon Tate's blood on the front porch, the possibility that Steven Parent saw the severing of the phone lines some three minutes before encountering the killers, and a possible interaction between Steve and Tex in the parking area several yards away from the inside gate button, don't factor into the official narrative.
None of these things change the ultimate outcome of the story, yet they are rather misunderstood in the official narrative. If they are not truly insignificant, can we be said to heretics if we hypothesize about them outside of the official orthodoxy that Susan Atkins and Linda Kasabian gave us?